Jim O’Shea, one hell of a nice guy, was one of my roommates at the Haste Lodge
boarding house, while we were going to school at Cal. (Go Bears!) One day we decided to do
a houseboat trip up the Delta. Why? Because it was there. Anyway, we reserved a boat in
Antioch, the gateway to the Delta, for the next 3-day weekend.
It was a double decker with a pilothouse and big “porch” on the top deck, and a little
porch front and rear on the first deck. So one Saturday morning, Jim, his girlfriend Mary, and
I, jumped on board with arms full of bags full of stuff. Game on.
Jim and Mary had no prior boating experience, while I used to be a Sea Scout! Guess
who the “expert” was. But that didn’t make much difference because Jim’s enthusiasm won
out in the end. Jim is a smart guy (he became a doctor, and Mary did too) but when it came to
boats, he was a klutz, (not to be confused with a Kluznick) as you will see.
We exited the harbor, tooting the horn when appropriate, and hung a right to head for the
heart of the Delta. Everything was wonderful – the sun was bright, the sky was clear, the
wind was light, and the tide was rising.
I was the driver at first but eventually Jim took a turn at the helm. At first he was hesitant
but eventually he got in the swing of things. I mean literally. He got bored with just driving in a
straight line so he went along swinging from side to side, just for the hell of it. And he swung
in and out of every cove, nook, and cranny that the river presented to us too.
Well, one time while swinging back and forth, he got distracted by something, and when
he turned his attention back to driving the boat, it was headed straight for shore at the end of
an island. He panicked! But instead of pulling the throttle back all the way, he pushed the
throttle forward all the way. We rammed that island going full speed! The boat slid up a small
slope and stopped at the very top.
After a few minutes of shock and awe, Jim and I jumped off and started pushing on the
boat. Nothing. It budged not an inch. OMG, what are we going to do now? Naturally we got
out a couple of thinking glasses and opened up a bottle of mental stimulation, a fortified wine.
After sufficient fortification, Jim come up with a plan. He would swim ashore and get help.
So, equipped with the rental company phone number, he swam ashore and knocked on
the door of the quaint little cottage on the opposite shore, to ask if he could use their phone.
They had no phone! Can you imagine that? They had no phone! Who goes around having no
phone? While avoiding eye contact, they suggested that he go down the road 2 clicks to the
nearest store – surely, they would have a phone there.
Jim, all decked out in his best wet swim suit and his bare feet, hitchhiked to the store. He
called the rental company and told them of our plight. They said that high tide will be in an
hour or two, and maybe we can get the boat free then.
So Jim hitchhiked back, swam across to the waiting Mary and Nick, and reported the
conversation. After a long hour, Jim and I went out and tried to move the boat again. No luck.
After a short while the tide stopped coming in and it started its long recession, without ever
once wetting the hull of our boat. OMG, now what are we going to do?
Well, we got out the thinking glasses again and imbibed more fortification. And Jim came
up with another idea – he would swim ashore and get help. So once again Jim swam ashore,
hitch-hiked to the store and called the boat rental guy.
The guy said that we just experienced the Lower High Tide. The next high tide, due the
next morning, would be the Higher High Tide. He will come to get us in a big boat, just before
high tide, and hopefully pull us off the island.
Hitchhiked back, swam across, got back on the boat, and reported the news…
OK, now we had a real plan. But in the meantime, what to do? We played cards, but not
like anyone ever played cards before. The boat had settled onto the island with about a 20
degree list to starboard. The cards slid off the table. Two people had to hold down the cards
on the table while the third person played his hand.
Next came cocktails and orderves. They brought nibbling cheese and I brought caviar, I
think it was Lumpfish roe, little black berries, from Safeway. On the box was a recipe that we
wanted to try, so we did. Get out a pencil and paper; you will want to write this down.
What you do is make toast, cut off the edges, butter the toast, spread the caviar on the
toast, place an onion ring in the center, and put an egg yolk inside the onion ring. For this
grand occasion we broke out our bottle of champagne. It was soooo good! The steak
afterwards was anticlimactic.
The morning came, the rental guy came, the Higher High Tide came, and we went – on
The rest of the trip was pleasant, though not uneventful, but not as exciting as the fore-
going. All in all, it was a great trip. Thank you Jim and Mary.
|Our boat was sort of like this only
shorter and with a pilothouse instead of
a flying bridge.
Good old Jim
|The Houseboat Trip
of 1957 or 8 or 9